You’re a new mama. They let you go home from the hospital with your newborn baby and you’re wondering what the heck you’re supposed to do now. Congratulations! You’re now among the group of every new mama in the world.
We’re given these babies without a lot of guidance on how we’re supposed to take care of them let alone ourselves. We had to say we watched the videos at the hospital so we know what to do and know the signs of postpartum depression. If you’re like a lot of moms you might think “This won’t happen to me, surely.” But if you’re like me and have experienced postpartum anxiety you might be thinking, “What if this happens again?” while scrambling to do everything you can think of to prevent it.
But Mama you cannot prevent this and it is not your fault. You’re not a bad mother. I know because I’ve been there three times and I see you.
I see you up at night checking to see if your baby is breathing.
I see you wondering if these tears are the normal baby blues or if it’s something more serious.
I see you googling every little thing that might be wrong with your baby.
I see you wanting to go to the doctor or the breastfeeding clinic just to have someone else confirm that your baby is actually okay and thriving.
I see you wanting to hear from anyone that you’re doing a great job.
I see you second guessing every single decision you have to make.
I see you doubting your ability to mother.
I see you getting angry with others and feeling all of the things.
I see you up at night crying from the pain of nursing your new baby.
I see you up at night crying from the pain because you can’t nurse your new baby.
I see you wondering why no one else seems to be struggling.
I see you feeling lonely and disconnected.
I see you feeling terrified and scared even though maybe you’ve done this before because this isn’t your first baby.
I see you wanting to get out of the house and do all the things only to be frustrated once you’re out.
I see you wanting to do absolutely nothing at all and not wanting to leave your house.
I see you looking at your house that is in shambles.
I see you wanting to get down on the floor to play with your other kids but you’re too exhausted.
I see you trying to savor moments while also wishing the days away and praying for the days that are promised to have more sleep to come sooner.
I see your wondering if it will always be this way.
But Mama, it won’t always be like this. Everything seems so far away in those early days/weeks/months. But like everything else, time passes and seasons change. I see you because I was (and sometimes still am) you.
I had experienced postpartum anxiety six months after my first son was born and immediately after we brought our second baby home from the hospital. When I got pregnant with our third I hoped and prayed that this time it would be different. I wanted this baby. We planned and prayed for this baby. But I knew the statistics that tell me that once I’ve had postpartum anxiety/depression once, I would be more likely to experience it again. So I did everything I could to prepare myself for it this time.
I sought out counseling and had my support system in place. I started taking a magnesium supplement. I tried to get extra rest. I had a plan on how I was going to make sure I could have time for me after our new baby was here.
No matter what I did though, I could not prevent it. This time was different but it was much worse. I had never felt that way in my life. I started off sleep deprived after our son had some health concerns that landed us an extended hospital stay. I couldn’t stop shaking most of the time. I felt terrified of nothing yet of everything. I told myself that I could not do this. I couldn’t take care of two kids plus a newborn. I told myself that I didn’t know what I was doing.
I didn’t want to be left alone. I didn’t want a break either.
I didn’t want my kids or husband to leave my side. I never wanted to harm myself or our kids but I was convinced something bad was going to happen at any given moment. I couldn’t sleep even when everyone else was. When I could sleep, I woke up drenched in sweat with my arms, hands and legs feeling numb.
I don’t say any of this to scare you or create fear. I say it because no one told me.
No one told me that this was postpartum anxiety. It was going to be okay but I needed help and treatment. That treatment included going to counseling from someone that specialized in postpartum mood disorders and even taking medication that I was so opposed to. But I knew I needed it at least for a little while to help myself be the mother I knew I was and could be. I made sure I got outside every day at least for a little bit. It was amazing what getting some sun did for my anxiety.
For the first 2 or 3 months after our third son was born, we ate breakfast outside every morning. It made me feel good. A healthy, happy mama means a healthy, happy family. Postpartum mood disorders and hormones don’t discriminate. They don’t care about your circumstance or that you have this perfect baby. It can happen to anyone and it is not your fault. Hear me on that one. It is not your fault if you feel this. This time around I didn’t feel ashamed and I worked through the guilt because I knew I was not alone. There were mothers feeling what I was all around the world.
Mama, you are not alone.